Question re: Dawson City daycare - December 15, 2015

Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services. About a year ago, I asked a previous Minister of Health and Social Services about the status of the Little Blue Daycare in Dawson City. It currently is housed in an older building and the daycare desperately needs a new home. They submitted a proposal to the minister’s department over a year ago to replace the building. At that time, the minister called it an exciting report. Mr. Speaker, a year later — and we’re still waiting for a response.

Will this government be funding this worthwhile project so that it can get off the ground?

Hon. Mr. Nixon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Certainly the Department of Health and Social Services and this government recognize that there are unique needs for some rural centres and we’re always exploring a level of funding and service model for our rural childcare services, as the member opposite had indicated.

As I understand it, the Dawson Society for Children and Families operates the Little Blue Early Child Care and Learning Centre. This centre is currently licensed for 20 spaces, and has been licensed since 1980. As I understand it, in early October 2014, the centre submitted a consultant’s report, entitled Situation Report and Recommendations for the Little Blue Early Care and Learning Centre to the Child Care Services unit. The department has on a number of occasions met with the centre program director and the board of directors to discuss that specific report, to discuss any proposed changes and to discuss potential funding alterations. Health and Social Services has provided approximately $50,000 in funding for this organization to address the necessary capital improvements as a one-time only, exceptional funding opportunity. We continue to work with the organization on an ongoing basis and look forward to those discussions.

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We are definitely happy with some renovations. I mean, we have water coming through the outlets right now and a roof that needs to be repaired. These are temporary solutions. Before this session started, the Premier said that there wasn’t much left to do on the government’s mandate. We heard that again today. He said the government has accomplished what has it set out to do and should be congratulated on a job well done. Yet here is another example of something that is left to be done.

Since I was elected in 2011, I have been urging the government to help provide a new, safe building for the Little Blue Daycare to occupy. In four years, there has been no action taken. This government has one more budget to deliver, and it will come in the spring. Will there be $1 million in there to build a new home for the Dawson daycare — yes or no?

Hon. Mr. Nixon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I indicated for the member opposite in my first response, the Department of Health and Social Services, as well as this Yukon Party government, recognizes that there are some unique needs for childcare providers in a number of the communities. I also indicated that the department has, and continues to, meet with the Dawson Society for Children and Families, which operates the Little Blue Early Child Care and Learning Centre in Dawson City, which has in fact been in operation since 1980, as I indicated. We will continue to have those discussions with the daycare provider and with the director, as we have been doing. We have provided them with funding to make some alterations in their current space, and we look forward to those discussions and that relationship on an ongoing basis.

Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Dawson daycare has done what they are supposed to do. They have jumped over all of the hurdles. They have developed a responsible plan to proceed with the new building. The former minister received the report a year ago and said it was — and I quote: “…an excellent report and we look forward to proceeding with it as quickly as possible.” A year later, the government is still dragging its heels and the daycare is still waiting for an answer.

A Liberal government would fund this facility. When will the government be making a decision on this request, or should it be added to the ever-growing list of projects the next Yukon government is going to have to address?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Of course this government will continue to engage with the community of Dawson City.

This gives me an opportunity to talk about some of the recent things that we have done in health care here in the territory: the opening of Canada’s first MRI earlier this year; of course the construction of the two regional hospitals that both parties were vehemently opposed to in both Dawson City and Watson Lake; and the tremendous increases that we have for home care. We are going to be opening McDonald Lodge very soon in the members opposite’s riding.

We’ll also be opening very soon the Oblate house as a temporary long-term care facility to take some of the burden of patients who are waiting for long-term care who are now currently in the hospital. We also expanded the women’s shelter in the MLA for Dawson’s riding and we will begin construction early next year on a beautiful 150-bed long-term care facility, Mr. Speaker, that the doctors and the nurses all say is desperately needed and we know that both the NDP and the Liberals would cancel that project.